latency structures bonneville salt flats /
The Bonneville Salt Flats, on the western edge of the Utah desert, are like a perfect screen. The smooth Bonneville topography, an equipotential surface, varies less than 0.2 m of variation across its entire area. The flats permit experiments calibrating the precision of satellite-mounted lasers, used to analyze upper atmosphere phenomena, like ice streams. Various projects appear above and below the salt: to deter terrorist attack, a regional water control facility is fenced in chainlink and barbed wire; bright green cache ponds distill potash crystals from the salt, while rusty pumps gush intermittent torrents from hidden groundwater; race car tracks leave residues of new salt crystal formation in their wake; GPS artists improvise solar cooking, salt golf and salt-skiing. Each of three channels in “Latency Structures” processes similar, not-identical video and audio streams, from footage shot in and around the Bonneville Salt Flats during the GPS Expo 2006, together with stills from GPS field work in support of the ICESat by Scripps Institution of Oceanography. The first channel’s video stream interacts live with the remote landscape in Utah, while the second and third are interactive with the immediate audience environment and each other via a local ethernet network, which is triggered by close-range ambient audio in the architectural surround. Live, real time feed of stills, from a webcam mounted on a tower overlooking the Wendover Airfield very near Bonneville, gets picked up by a mini computer connected to channel 1: these stills intersperse within the frame sequences, real time hitting story time. The second and third channels, like the first, process similar Salt Flats videos whose frame sequences change in response to ambient audio presence. A mic connected to the channel 2 computer picks up audio from visitors to the installation; the audio signals trigger latency delays in three levels or iterations of the channel 2 video; the channel 2 computer sends these three levels of latency delays to the channel 3 computer, where the latency delays are spread out over six levels of video processing. Participants in the installation may alter the patterns of video processing in the second and third channels by modulating audio (making louder or softer sounds, for example), but the result is delayed, not a one to one stimulus-response. As in the landscape of the Salt Flats, human actions here produce lush effects, but only over time, fleeting, in strange increments– haphazard splendors, missing parts, felicitous breakdowns, mirage.
Special thanks to Steve Rowell and Matt Coolidge, Center for Land Use Interpretation, Wendover and Los Angeles; Jesse Stiles for Jitter programming; Brett Stalbaum and the University of San Diego Department of Visual Arts; and Adrian Borsa, PhD, Scripps Institution of Oceanography Visualization Center, La Jolla.
Premiere: Split Film Festival, Croatia, 2007, new media invitational selection, Branko Karabatic, director. Film documentation footage featuring Katia Paliwoda.
This project was supported with travel funding by Split Festival of New Media and Film.
a naxsmash group production 2007
spatial, live/remote landscape video installation / programming MaxMSPjitter
Edition of one
Split Festival of New Media and Film 2007 / commissioned work
Latency Structures (Bonneville Salt Flats) is an interactive three channel video installation around the traces of live and past experiments on the Bonneville Salt Flats involving GPS technology, through live interaction with remote visual and local sound phenomena. Three screen/computer pairs process pre-edited video using Mac Mini computers. Each video stream process is intercepted by new signals generated from the remote and local sites, at the Salt Flats in the western Utah high desert, and in the local space. At the Center for Land Use Interpretation Wendover Station, a webcam mounted to a tower overlook sends video stills to channel one, where Jitter software inserts each still image, as it arrives via internet, into edited footage of an impromptu GPS Expo on the Flats, as well as stills from ICESat GPS measurement expeditions. In channels 2 and 3, audio signals from the ambient participation of visitors flow into the video processing in channels 2 and three via a local network, creating three to six layers of latency. Delays preserve the traces of human intervention in latent structures, in screens of salt.